Ah, the good old days. A simpler time, when online vacation rentals could be found, researched and booked the old fashioned way: by owner and traveler working together.
The way it used to be, online travel & booking sites like VRBO had one goal: to hook up owners of vacation properties with people who wanted to stay in those vacation properties. It was easy: as an owner, you'd pay a reasonable fee (something like $100 a year), you'd list your property on the site, travelers would find the site, click on your listing and send you an email. You could get their contact info. They could send you questions to see if your property was right for them. Heck, you could even TALK to them! That's right!
Then the bigger players like Homeway/VRBO realized something. By hiding contact info, and inserting themselves into every facet of the transaction, they found they could extract fees from BOTH sides: from the traveler and the owner. Now, the traveler can pay upwards of 10% of the overall cost for using the service - and so does the owner. 20%! That's $100 on EVERY $500 booking! A far cry from the measley old $100 listing fee of yore...
But as usually happens, folks wise up. There's a way around those fees and it's called Booking Direct. As more owners have secure websites for thier properties, its easier to contact them directly to ask questions, talk about the area, and save some money on service fees. 2018 marks the first year where vacation rental owners, and low-fee listing websites come together under #BookDirect, dedicated to educating guests about online travel site's "service fees” associated with booking a reservation through their websites. Let's hope it continues.
So, next time you want to book a stay in a vacation rental (for instance in Bellaire's Mountain View Townhouse or at our secluded cabin just South of Lewiston), save yourself the 10%. Pick up the phone and book directly with the owner. Get a cheaper deal. Get quicker answers. And, ultimately, get a better travel experience.